There are two things to keep in mind when looking into a holistic health program. First, alternative therapies and holistic wellness programs are art forms, not sciences. Second, to be most effective, all natural wellness approaches demand the daily involvement of the person in need of the care.
Alternative therapies are an art because, unlike science, precise results cannot be repeated over and over. This is not a sign of anything lacking in the so-called alternative methods of healing, but simply because your health issue almost certainly has more than one simple cause (and perhaps a half-dozen symptoms) and will need a shifting strategy of therapies to finally resolve.
Let’s say you are receiving care from a chiropractor for neck pain. He adjusts your cervical vertebrae and the pain subsides. However, when you return a few days later and the same area is adjusted, the pain doesn’t go away. Is this a failure of the treatment? No, because the chiropractor, having palpated you prior to the adjustment, also knows that your thoracic spine is subluxated (misaligned). Thus, on this day he adjusts two locations to alleviate the pain, whereas the other day only one adjustment was necessary.
Another example finds you seeking help for insomnia in the office of an acupuncturist. After the initial examination, the acupuncturist puts together a “point prescription” or list of acupoints that will be used to treat your sleeplessness. Today’s points may be selected to calm the liver and heart. But tomorrow the same insomnia may require the use of points to balance the heart and kidneys. You see, while you are still suffering from the same sleep disorder, the underlying cause of it keeps changing due to a variety of related factors, not the least of which is changes in daily stressors and lifestyle choices.
These are merely two small examples of how the art of holistic healing makes it possible to continue the healing process by looking for, expecting, allowing and making modifications in treatment from changes in the body that often confound a more scientific yet less healthy method of care.
Our second issue is that the effectiveness of any holistic program necessitates the active involvement of the person in need of the care. This is true of nearly every holistic healing method I can think of. In my own practice, I try to maximize time and effort in an attempt to make the problem “go away” as fast as possible with the least amount of fuss. Synergistic care is the only way I have found to truly do this.
A person had come to me complaining of severe insomnia, anxiety, fatigue and weight gain. A primary care physician might look at these as separate issues; deal with each of them individually by prescriptions and then referral to a dietician or nutritionist. However, in my holistic practice I see these various health problems as being part and parcel of an overall wellness imbalance. And it is this imbalance that must be corrected or else the person’s conditions will continue to exist, no matter how many pills are swallowed.
I suggested to this person that he take some Chinese herbal formulas and said that a change in diet was necessary, as were changes in daily activities, including a need for regular exercise — in addition to receiving hands-on energy treatments. Clearly most of these methods become the sole responsibility of that person to manage his own life by establishing a ritualized sleep/wake cycle, by eating protein at every meal and eating three to six times per day to maintain energy levels, to avoid all foods and drinks that spike blood sugar or lead to weight gain or dampness retention, to get out and walk at least 20 minutes per day if prolonged gym exercise is not an option, and so on.
The healer’s art lies in seeing that sleep deprivation is both caused by and is also a cause of anxiety; that weight gain is due to improper diet and emotional issues; that insomnia is a result of anxiety and poor food choices and lifestyle choices and jobs that lead to stress and organ-energy imbalances. There is something in the body “allowing” these ailments to thrive. Uncovering that imbalance is an art. Following the progress of the ailments and adjusting to them over time is also an art, one that both the healer and the patient come to share.
If you do not understand this fundamental responsibility to yourself, you may never achieve optimal health. And while prescription drugs can take away the pain as long as you use them, the underlying mechanism causing the pain is still working night and day in your body. The only way to truly be “cured” is to remove the cause of the pain (or illness) and then to balance the body so it is able to resist on its own. And the best way is to choose to walk a holistic path, to forge ahead by utilizing a synergistic program that requires your own passionate personal involvement.
So the pair of linked concepts that always need to be considered when looking into medical alternatives is that true healing is an art and that you, personally, hold much of the responsibility for reaching your wellness goals. The healer will point the way, will provide the hands-on work and will furnish you with educational material and traditional knowledge. But it is you, the fellow artist, who must stay on the path and do the walking.
–Dr. Mark Wiley